The Alliance For Change (AFC) will press its governing coalition partner, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) for an accord on local government elections when the two groups meet next week.
Any such accord could see the AFC – which holds twelve of the coalition seats in the National Assembly – being assigned a certain number of seats in the city council and in local government organs where it is presumed to have support.
A letter of intent was dispatched yesterday by the AFC and APNU’s General Secretary Joseph Harmon has signaled that his group is ready for talks.
“Mr (Raphael) Trotman (Leader of the AFC) outlined to His Excellency that the AFC proposes a meeting of the two parties on Monday, May 7 with a view to commence discussions on the path to Local Government Elections…,” a statement issued by the AFC last evening said.
It added, “the AFC NEC stipulated that the party will allow additional time for the two parties to have a definitive written agreement in the form of a Local Government Elections (LGE) Accord. The NEC also took a decision for all party groups to fully activate its campaign preparations protocols and this will commence in earnest”.
In addition, the AFC said that the correspondence also details some AFC positions for negotiation of the LGE Accord.
At the party’s May 1st National Executive Council (NEC) Meeting, its members had decided on sending APNU a request that the two sides meet to discuss modalities for LGE or it goes alone to the polls this year.
“As previously reported Leader Raphael Trotman reported to the meeting that on the evening of April 30 he received a response to the AFC letter dated February 26th which was sent to Leader of a Partnership for National Unity, His Excellency President David Granger. The AFC letter outlined a number of matters, including the issue of the approach to Local Government Elections and the response from His Excellency proposed a certain course of action,” an earlier release from the AFC yesterday stated.
“The NEC deliberated on this matter and mandated the Leader to respond to His Excellency in a prescribed manner. This will be done today and following the dispatch of that communication, the AFC will make a more detailed statement on this specific issue,” it added.
Granger’s belated response to the AFC came more than two months after he had been written to.
The issuing of the ultimatum by the AFC signalled a further sign of stress in the three-year-old coalition which has seen the party express disquiet over matters like the number of seats allocated at the regions to its councillors and the conduct of APNU members at the all-important Mayor and City Council.
Harmon said yesterday that “there is going to be a response to it” as the APNU Leader, President Granger, had written to the AFC informing of his party’s willingness to meet but that “it is only a matter now of scheduling that meeting”.
And with a team already identified for APNU, Harmon said they are prepared as they “have been working for a while on these matters”.
“Of course we are ready,” the APNU General Secretary said.
The AFC’s team is comprised of four persons with Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson and the Party General Secretary Marlon Williams leading the delegation. Member of Parliament Michael Carrington and United States Diaspora representative Dr. Vincent Adams are the other two members.
Patterson is known for his vocal positions on matters and he has told the NEC that he favours the party going to the LGE polls alone with the latter view shared by Carrington.
Sources at last Tuesday’s AFC meeting say that members have a lot of confidence in sending Patterson to bargain for the party. “Patto (Patterson) don’t play with words and in expressing how he feels on certain issues. He believes in the AFC and its cause and that it came to be the balance of power. When things are not going how the people want you can expect him to represent the grass roots,” one executive said.
Expressing that he and his party are confident that the issues between the two sides will be resolved speedily and amicably, Harmon said that both sides believe that they are stronger together and will work towards that common goal.
“As you are aware this was a matter that was raised sometime before and the letter basically trusts the issues in relation to the Cummingsburg Accord (of February 14, 2015). We have indicated that the president has said that we are better together. And therefore, we see no reason why we should go separately. I believe that there was a statement from the AFC to that effect that we would wish to go together. There is a commonality of purpose here in this regard and the direction we would go,” Harmon stated.
“The issues that are there are minor; timing and perceptions and things like that. I don’t believe that they are so serious as to affect the congeniality that exists between our two parties. We have the issue in relation to the number of seats people get, in relating to the local government elections, because there was no formula which had been established under the Cummingsburg Accord for determining that and these are some of the issues which I believe that we have to discuss,” he added.